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If we tithe 10% and save 10%, we stay drier on rainy days.

Mark Levitt
By Mark Levitt

This article appeared originally in the November 2011 Levitt Letter.

So much easier said than done. If we tithe 10% and save 10%, we stay drier on rainy days. “Into each life some rain [tears] must fall.” —Henry Longfellow

By rainy days, I mean financial challenges such as a job loss or sudden expense. First, of course, you’ll have savings to fall back on. Second, you’ll be accustomed to living on just 80% of your income (or more if you don’t tithe). Pay yourself (save) before paying others (spending). Frugality during prosperity helps us weather life’s storms. Sorry for the pun.

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Pr. 22:3, 27:12). The serpent wisely knows this; the dove gently abides it (Mt. 10:16).

Below is a friendly exchange between financial guru Dave Ramsey and one of his readers. See more from Dave Ramsey in the Serpent installments that are archived toward the bottom at www.levitt.com/essays: “Buying a Car” and “Navigating the New www.Cars.com.”

Dear Dave,
I’ve just started listening to you and trying to clean up my finances. Who exactly is this “Murphy” you always talk about?
—Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,
The Murphy I talk about isn’t an actual person, or even a real family. There’s an adage called Murphy’s Law, and it goes something like this: “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.” In other words, if you’re alive and walking around, bad stuff will happen to you sooner or later. It’s not even about being pessimistic or negative, it’s just a fact. Sooner or later it’s going to rain, and that’s why you need an umbrella.

I tell people all the time that having an emergency fund of three to six months worth of expenses saved up is great Murphy Repellant. Think about it. A lot of your big problems seem to leave when you have $10,000 to $15,000 sitting around. An emergency fund can turn a disaster into nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

So, it’s just a saying. But there’s still a whole lot of truth in that little saying, Jennifer. If you’re properly prepared, you can keep Murphy away from your door!
—Dave

Such pearls of wisdom won’t apply very well to certain families who live below the poverty level (please don’t take this article as an indictment). In fact, this ministry has never had six months worth of reserves on hand. However, I strive to practice what I preach by steering clear of extravagances while avoiding penny wisdom and pound foolishness.

Chances are, many of you who are reading this article can both save more for yourselves and help God’s work, such as this ministry, more than before. Okay, you already knew that yesterday. What I’m telling you today is that, counterintuitive though it is, you may be happier in the long run doing so. To the rest of you who already save and donate all you can afford, please relay these thoughts to someone younger.

Super Serpent Savers Tip

I reduced my electricity rate from 13.1 cents per kWh to 10 cents with just one telephone call. All I did was switch from my provider’s month-to-month plan to a one-year agreement on their Secure 12 with 20% Wind promotion. Doing so will save me more than 20%! My provider happens to be Reliant in Dallas. Maybe you could ask your utility company what discounts they can offer you on a six-month or one-year fixed-rate contract.

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